Bit by the "Pain in the Rear" Customer bug

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by rkbrown, Jul 30, 2002.

  1. rkbrown

    rkbrown LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 533

    Ahh...the wisdom of a nine year old...

    Two weeks ago a guy calls me to regularly mow a 1/2 acre lot he has just purchased in a very nice area. He wants it mowed soon and is going on vacation for 2 weeks the next day. He also says he needs a one-time service for his residence. I tell him my price and he agrees. I specifically ask, since he is going to be gone for that long, and it had been raining all the previous week, if he wanted the lot and his residence cut twice while he was gone. He says no, he wants to see the quality of my work before he truly commits to service. He ends the conversation with "I hope I can trust you". Red flags go up in my mind and I reply "I certainly hope to earn your trust".

    The next day (Sat.) I get to his lot and about 1/3 of the way through we get rain and lightning, so I pack up. Sunday also has thunderstorms all day (with lightning, of course) as well as Monday morning. I get out late monday afternoong/evening and finish his lot and then go do his residence. While I am finishing his lot, the guy who owns the empty lot next door scalps his lot to the ground with a garden tractor. I cut his lot at 3.5 inches. Rain continues off and on for the next couple of days.

    I got a call from him last Thursday. He was irritated. "Did you mow my lot ???" I answered yes, I had, and that I had to do it over two days due to the rain and lightning. He said that the grass (weeds, actually) were longer than when he left. I try to explain that the ground had been saturated and it had been about 1.5 weeks. He tells me that my explanation is rediculous and to send the bill (which I already had). Then he asks "Did you mow my residence, at least ???" I say yes, at the same height that I mowed your lot. (At this point I am trying to keep my cool and be professional...and am succeeding).

    I decide to go look at his lot but can't get over there until Saturday. I have my twin daughters with me running errands. I arrive at the lot and there he is with some other guy trying to get a brand new Husqvarna lawn tractor started. I introduce myself (we had not met face to face). His tone is not quite as gruff, but still sharp with his replies. He says "See ? Look how long it is." I told him that it was the same length as the house 2 doors down after I cut it. I also told him that his neighbor scalped his lot and it was almost as long. He says "Well, your check will be in the mail Moday morining". I ask about his residence and he replies (sharply) "I take care of my house myself". I say that I realize that, but was asking was he pleased with the job I had done there. He says "Oh....ya, it was fine. Your check will be in the mail Monday". I asked if I could possibly help with starting the tractor. He says no, that he and his friend can handle it. So I walk back to the truck.

    I am glad that I am rid of this individual as I do not believe that I could ever please him. Lessons learned...1) never do a prop sight unseen (ie. walk the property with the customer and explain exactly what you plan to do and give them the opportunity to ask questions and get their input. 2) stick to my guns about every week service or no service.

    As I get in the truck my daughter asks me "Daddy, did you get fired just because the grass grew ???" I say "essentially, sweetie, yes, that is pretty much it." The wisdom of a 9 year old is priceless. :)
  2. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    Yep, it sounds like your daughter is one smart girl. To bad some of our clients are not so bright. Be glad you do not have to deal with the adult dummy anymore. :)

    Decent turf + lots of rain = rapid growth. Why can't some people get it? :laugh:
  3. southside

    southside LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 790

    From my experience,this type of person spend their days
    "working" in airconditioned office. You are better off without this
  4. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 897

    It sounds like you are getting alot of rain. Grass grows. Where do these people come from? I hope you get your check. people sure are strange sometimes. I would be glad to get rid of him. It sounds like your daughter has more sense then your (former) customer.
  5. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    every two weeks will never ever work, period! i will not do it, i been there, and its always a headache.
  6. bettern'goats

    bettern'goats LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    I would not have stood for the disrespect. He probably treats everyone this way and gets away with it. And so what, he goes and tells someone you stood up for yourself. Anyone he tells will probably agree with you silently in their minds.:mad:
  7. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    Trust this response. Bobby has a way with finding PITA customers. :p
  8. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    ha ha, sometimes i wonder though, is it always the customer thats wrong?????part of being in business is learning to deal with pita customers (something im gettin better at) but also important is learning when u just cant win, and the every other week gig is a no win for sure. u develop "people skills" with experience, and also come to learn what people can not be dealt with, and adios to them before they beat u out of cash or cuase u too much stress
  9. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Consider this a blessing. It worked out great that this guy showed his ... well, his colors early in the relationship. It just goes to show ya, there's one in every crowd.;)
  10. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    I learned that "every two week" lesson too...the hard way!

    I wil not even consider them for clients anymore. Typically they are true 'tightwads' and during rainy periods it seems that they ALWAYS had to be double-cut. And once you build up a roster of weekly clients who gets priority??? Not the '2 weekers'...thats for sure. So eventually it gets to where they go longer than two weeks between mowing if you get behind or rained out...thus aggravating an already bad situation.

    Two or three SLOW cuts for the price of one quick one??? No thanks. If the potential client wants to save money then I suggest that they open a savings account at a bank...instead of wasting my time. I'm no bank....and I'm not here to save people money. I'm here to run a profitable business. PERIOD! ;)

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